Alberta Bair Theater for the Performing Arts

2801 3rd Avenue N,
Billings, MT 59103

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Alberta Bair Theater for the Performing Arts (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox Circuit

Architects: Robert C. Reamer

Functions: Concerts, Live Performances, Performing Arts

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Fox Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 406.256.6052

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Alberta Bair Theater for the Performing Arts

The Fox Theatre opened on November 17, 1931, with the Janet Gaynor film “Merely Mary Ann”. It was built in glamorous Art Deco style by architect R. C. Reamer. There was also a parade down Third Avenue and live entertainment opening night. The theater was built on the site of the homestead of the Bair family.

The Fox Theatre continued to be not only a movie house, but a venue for live performances for decades, long the home of the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale group, as well as the Fox Committe for the Performing Arts, which sponsored live theater, musicals, and concerts over the years. Among the artists to perform at the Fox included Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, and Judy Collins.

In 1978, the Fox Theatre was acquired by Carsich Theatres, which was going to convert the theater into a modern triplex. However, the Fox Committee stopped these plans, had the theater added to the National Register of Historic Buildings, and began a fund-rasing campaign to restore the aging building. Around this time, also, the city of Billings was hoping to raze the Fox Theatre and replace it with a parking lot.

Eventually, the city dropped its plans, and bought the Fox Theatre, which it leased to the newly-formed Alberta Bair Theater Corporation. Alberta Bair, a daughter of the man who formerly owned the property the Fox was built on, gave a generous gift towards the theater’s restoration, and the theater was afterwards renamed in her honor.

The Alberta Bair Theater for the Performing Arts reopened in 1987, returned to its original 1930’s beauty, with a concert by Burt Bacharach. Today, the theater is one of Montana’s premier cultural venues.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

kencmcintyre on January 27, 2007 at 2:14 pm

Here is a photo being advertised on eBay:

kencmcintyre on March 27, 2009 at 6:39 pm

This ad for the first anniversary of the Fox was in the Billings Gazette on 11/13/32:

Gooper on June 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I saw ‘Nicholas and Alexandra’ here in 1971 and was quite impressed with this fine house.

rivest266 on August 8, 2013 at 10:40 am

Grand opening section is at It opened on November 17th, 1931

rivest266 on May 17, 2018 at 2:15 pm

Grand opening ad is also in the photo section.

terrywade on May 18, 2018 at 8:44 am

Such a shame they took the Fox name and marquee down. This happens all the time, someone comes along with major money for the remodel and the original name large marquee comes down. Needed to be called The Alberta Bair Fox. They all want their name on the buildings some way. Its still the FOX to most people in Billings.

rivest266 on May 19, 2018 at 9:30 am

The Fox Screening Room (AKA Fox II) opened quietly on October 8th, 1978 and stopped showing movies in 1982.

ducatimatz on August 22, 2023 at 11:03 pm

FOX THEATER - Billings,Mt held the Premier in Aug 1951 of the Film shot in Billings in 1950 “WAR PATH” 1951 They built a Large Stage Platform in front of the Theater and most of the Major Stars were there and gave Speeches before Viewing the Premiere Film which had been Shot in 3 Strip Tecnicolor. Main Stars like Forrest Tucker, Dean Jaggar, Edmund O'Brien,Polly Bergen and many recognizable Co=stars attended the Premiere also. The FOX Marquee and Projection Room Equipment ended up going to OSCAR’S DREAMLAND in the early 80’s supposedly to be setup as a Display but that never happen …

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